Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dark Night of the Soul

I think that I may be in the midst of what St. John of the Cross, and in more modern times, spiritual writer Caroline Myss, called the "dark night of the soul." I don't feel cut off from God's presence, which has happened to many devout Christian people, even Mother Teresa, who experienced this spiritual state for something like 30 years. For this I am grateful. But perhaps I am cutting myself off from God's healing and comforting love when I allow the weight of the world to fall on my heart.

Lately the news all seems to conspire toward hopelessness and despair. I watched a Nightline video of school children, particularly those with severe behavior disorders and autism, being subjected to barbaric measures such as electric shock therapy. The use of padded "quiet" cells children are locked into is becoming more prevalent. A mother was interviewed whose son died of cardiac arrest after suffering brutality at the hands of adults at his school. He is not the only child to die such an unthinkable death. Unthinkable especially in America, the land of the free. I wondered to myself, what is next, the return of the lobotomy? The night I viewed this news report, I had a nightmare that freaked me out so badly I woke up, frozen in my bed, and didn't shut my eyes again until the sun shined through my windows. The dream involved axes and people's heads. I still haven't quite shaken it. Maybe because it seems like it wasn't just a dream. Here is the link to the video:

Daily it seems we hear of more government violations of our freedoms. The latest I have learned about is the use of drone planes coming back from the Middle East being trained to fly over the U.S. to spy on citizens. Obamacare, the Common Core Curriculum in our schools, rampant government tracking of private information, and now the drones--it all points to increasing control over our everyday lives. I have even read that mandatory micro-chipping of humans will be legal under the Affordable Care Act. The government shut down and yet another school shooting recently, and I feel like seriously leaving the country. If something drastic isn't done soon, we will no longer be living in a free society. I think we are reaching a tipping point, and a revolution is coming.

Yesterday I signed a petition to stop Common Core in Ohio. I have signed petitions and sent money to the Pro-Life Alliance to overturn Roe vs. Wade by passing a Life at Conception Act. Today I signed a petition against the use of drone planes in the U.S. and other violations of liberty. I'm prepared to march, to sit in protest, to do what must be done to save my country. It isn't just me falling into a dark night of the soul. It's Lady Liberty.

Don't forget that Our Lady has told us that the Rosary is our strongest weapon against evil. This simple prayer and meditation has won battles and saved countless souls. What we are witnessing in this country, today, is spiritual warfare. But we are distracted into not seeing the forest for the trees. In the name of Jesus, demons flee. Say His name out loud, and they will leave. Invoke the protection of our Blessed Mother, and she will hear your cries. Our Lord and Our Lady of Victory will win the day, but we must do our part.

If you are aware of anything at all that can be done to save our country from going to hell in a hand basket, please leave the information in the comment box rather than on Facebook, so that everyone, and not just those groups in which I post this blog, can read it. As Rafiki said in "The Lion King" when Simba was destined to reclaim his rightful throne from the evil Scar, "It is time!"

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The New Me, Who Is the Old Me, and What I Have to Say

The vast majority of my readers are lovely people, and I appreciate you so much for reading. The problem I'm experiencing now is my gradual awakening to the fact that I have watered down my own soul to suit other people, and I resolve now to be done with this. If you didn't like me before because I openly express my opinion and value my own experience over some so-called "empirical evidence" to the contrary, beware. Just don't read this blog anymore, and go ahead and unfriend me on Facebook. I may be a lady, but I'm not going to coddle the whiners, haters, meanies, gossips, and censors anymore. I'm sick of being diplomatic and editing my words so that someone isn't offended. No more, "Please understand me! That isn't what I meant. Let me change my words so you won't be angry." Either you understand or you don't. I DON'T CARE. You can thank Matt Walsh's blog for this. He isn't unkind. He simply calls a spade a spade. So here is what is bugging me right now.

I am a religious education teacher at a Catholic church. My eight year old cousin was expressing to me that the security cameras all over her school, as well as the armed janitors, give her the creeps. She is deeply disturbed by this prison-like atmosphere. When I was discussing this with a group of the CCD children, another adult was quick to stress that if you aren't doing anything wrong, why should it bother you? She also suggested that parents make children have these ideas. As an administrator, she condones this madness. So many things are wrong with this picture! First of all, the insinuation that kids can't think for themselves, and that their honest feelings aren't valid. Second, that it's those darned parents causing all the trouble. And the further implication that parents shouldn't have such undue influence on their own children.

As a parent, and as a former classroom teacher, and as a person who is trying to remove my head from decades of brainwashing sand, and as I told this woman, the security cameras are a violation of privacy, and I wouldn't like it, regardless of whether or not I was being "good" or "bad".  Armed security guards don't stop school shootings, and neither do cameras. Ask the students at Columbine. She suggested that at least the cameras would catch the identity of the shooter. Um, isn't the shooter usually dead at the end and therefore easily identifiable? He usually commits suicide. So tell me again the reason for the cameras? So that the school knows which kids are picking their noses and how many squares of toilet tissue they use? Granted, security cameras aren't usually placed in restrooms, but the issue of privacy is still at stake, especially considering the overall threat to freedom in America that seems to grow more menacing every day.

As a parent, I don't want the government videotaping or otherwise tracking my kid. I don't want the government usurping my God-given right as the primary educator of my child. I don't want the daughter of my womb to value the opinion of her peers and strangers at school over that of her parents. If my kid was freaked out by cameras and a man with a mop in one hand and a gun in his pocket, I would care. I would care even if it wasn't my own kid. I do care, and I do pay taxes for this government imprisonment of our children's souls. And as a concerned, tax paying citizen, I object!  Administrators do not know better than parents. Being an administrator doesn't make you smarter or more qualified in regard to the welfare and education of children than anyone else. I will not have my opinion invalidated by "professional" educators.

At least I told my fellow Catholic woman, politely but firmly, what I thought. I stood up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. At least maybe I bothered her enough that she went home and thought about what I said. Maybe I planted a little seed, and she adjusted her attitude more toward one of champion of children, and supporter of the work of loving parents. Maybe she saw a bit of light shining through the sand.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Boyfriend Jeans & Dark Days

We have had some gorgeous fall weather here in NW Ohio, and also some chilly, rainy days. I even heard talk of s**w for this week on Facebook, but my friend was posting from Michigan, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will stay north of us! Today it is growing darker and blusterier as I write this, in the middle of the afternoon. At my daughter's request, I turned on the gas log fireplace and can feel its warmth as I sit and type, with a Sacred Heart of Jesus jar candle lit on the coffee table. We also have an orange string of lights decorating the limestone mantle. It is these little touches that will get you through the dark days ahead.

I have fallen off the joie de vivre wagon lately. I share this because maybe you have too, and I want to tell you that it's okay! My laundry got behind, and I stopped eating breakfast again and wasn't eating enough for lunch. I don't even want to tell you about my snacking. Old habits die hard! However, I ate breakfast this morning and had a hearty bowl of chile for lunch. I am catching up on the laundry, which I did not allow to achieve the mountain status in my basement that it had reached before! And progress has still been made.

I was feeling like we were focusing too much on revolving our day around homeschooling academics, so one day last week I taught Beezy to bake French baguettes, which she had asked to learn the previous time that I made bread. And I found my perfect boyfriend jeans, Gap brand from Ebay. These were less than $20 including shipping! Still on my list for my essential wardrobe are 2 pairs of lounge pants and 2 cashmere sweaters. I have continued to work on perfecting my "le no makeup" look and most days have looked presentable and pulled together. I still have to go through hundreds of pictures on my camera to delete unwanted photos before my husband will transfer them to the computer.

Soon I will show you my fall outfits and bread baking pleasures. Sometimes it seems like procrastination rules the day, the house will never be perfectly in order, I lose sight of my priorities, and I feel just plain out of sorts. But you can start fresh at any moment of each day, or if the whole day seems to be a failure, there is always tomorrow. Just get out for a walk, even in the rain. Put on some lipstick and a great CD. Make a big pot of soup and get a fire going. You might be surprised to find that you are only a little off track, and just a few, slight adjustments will get things running smoothly again. Today, do one thing that you love and one thing that you don't want to do that needs to be done. Before you go to bed, write down 5 things for which you are grateful this day.

In fact, I'll start right now, and you can put yours in the comments!

1. My aunt who had a stroke Friday night survived and is starting therapy today.
2. My daughter is enjoying visiting a new friend at our house, so I can get things done!
3. I have a roof over my head and a gas log fireplace.
4. Many people are praying for my aunt and have asked how she is doing.
5. My husband provides an income for our family so I can homeschool!

Okay, now I am going to clean the bathroom sink, which I don't feel like doing, and then sometime this evening I will watch one of the many movies I have checked out from the library, such as one of my favorites for this time of year, "Practical Magic." Have a magical day!!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How to Be Chic in Sweats

Once again Cara Loren shows us how it's done! You may remember my mentioning how I am on the look out for replacement lounge pants. I've been wearing the same velour drawstring pants during the winter for many years. Sure, they are comfortable, but their colors are faded and I simply want something more stylish. Like Cara, when it gets cold, comfort becomes a top priority. I often don't leave the house in winter except to walk the dog, unless we have somewhere to go, such as church, homeschool co-op, or to visit grandparents. The way Cara is wearing them, lounge pants could even work for church!

Anthropologie is showing a lot of fun, stylish lounge pants right now. But of course I am waiting for a sale (and Christmas)! This pair from Windsor is less than $13. I love this style with banded cuffs. Reminds me of harem pants! If you like wearing heels, you can dress up pants like these, but booties or ballet flats would look just as great and be a lot more practical. I am terribly averse to sweat pants, by which I mean the old-fashioned variety worn by Sylvester Stalone in "Rocky". Do not ever, even when exercising, wear those, ladies!! But can you be chic and comfortable at the same time? Absolutely.

What is your go-to style for comfort in fall and winter?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Morning Star

Morning Star

As the Mother of Christ, Mary is the morning star announcing the rising of the Sun of Righteousness. Like the moon at the dawn of a new day, she is wholly bathed in the glory of the sun that is to come after her. Her beauty is a reflection of his.

— from Catholic Update Guide to Mary

I have been enjoying seeing the moon in the autumn sky during the day lately, watching the progression of fullness and thinking about how her cycles reflect the monthly cycles of womanhood, and also the growing belly of pregnancy. For some reason it is the season of fall that most heightens my awareness of the Presence of God in nature, of the crisp aliveness of creation during this last, great flourishing of Beauty.

The moon is associated with our Blessed Mother, as she reflects the pure Love of Jesus, just as the moon reflects the sun. She is the Woman of Revelation, the great sign which appears in heaven, clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and upon her head a crown of 12 stars. Mary's fertility as a maiden, her Divine Motherhood, and her sorrow in later years at the foot of the cross echo the cycles of life of all women from the beginning of time. I feel a kinship with Mary and with our Earth, both of whom God has given to nurture and mother us with her bounteous gifts.

The Virgin is a radiant reflection of Beauty, purity, patience, perseverance, generosity, faith, compassion, and Love. When I see the moon in the daytime sky, it reminds me that the Mother Love of God, God's immanent Presence among us, is beheld in nature and in the arms of Jesus' Mother, Our Lady, Mediatrix of Grace, the Morning Star.

How are you honoring our spiritual Mother this month of October, a traditional time to remember her in a special way?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Full-On Fall

Well, I think it's official. Summer is gone, though I'm sure we will still have some warm days before winter comes. We've had some very chilly days lately in NW Ohio, and sweater season is upon us! I am currently working on sorting through my cold weather clothing that has been stored in the attic. I am keeping the tub of summer clothes that I am preparing to store away in my bedroom closet right now, while I make sure I have everything that will go in there clean from the laundry, and in case I need to pull out a pair of shorts at some point (we can always hope)! I'm also carefully considering whether some items may work with creative layering for year round. But I'm also keeping in mind that thin fabrics really won't suffice when the air is frigid. It's still hard to let go, even when I am simply storing things away, not making permanent decisions. The key is to be practical and honest with myself. And I want to make room for new pieces that will make getting dressed a joy and a breeze!

Since I've had so much bad luck finding belts, I asked my grandma when I visited her house today if she had any that she no longer wears. She immediately pulled several out of a spare bedroom closet, and I brought home half a dozen of them! Now I have 8 belts, which I think is more than plenty.

I have some photo shoots waiting on my camera that my daughter did for me, so I can post some of my own fashion looks. I'll get them on here soon. In the meantime, here are some great Paris street looks from Anthropologie. I especially love the one with the green skirt!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Online Shopping Success!

Last week I received my online purchases, which were things I decided that I needed now rather than later. My new bras from Macy's are the Lilyette "Enchantment" full figured minimizer, which I got in two colors. This bra is comfortable and fits true to size. And as I hoped, I do look less busty and not at all squished down, as can happen sometimes with minimizers. I am small around the under bust in comparison to my ample cup size, so it's really important to be able to see my tiny empire waist! I feel like my figure now looks more balanced rather than top heavy. Do hand launder your bras, especially if you are wearing the same ones often, so that they will hold their shape.

The classic white Ann Taylor Loft blouse I ordered from Ebay fits perfectly! With a curvy figure, a fitted top is actually best. If you wear something too loose and formless, you will just look fat, or as if your bust is a shelf with a table cloth hanging from it. So not chic! The other top that arrived is a French terry baseball style sweatshirt that hits below the hips. This is a flattering length on me, and I've always favored the baseball style shirt. The fabric is so soft on this Style & Company top from Macy's.

My Style & Company chambray blouse with small polka dots is also a great shirt that fits nicely, and my Old Navy sweater coat in a soft brown color from Ebay is so warm and pretty! The only thing that didn't work out was the black belt I ordered from Macy's, which was the wrong length. Why is it so hard to find a good black belt that fits?!

I am actually excited about this fashion season for once, because there are many lovely, wearable options. Every conceivable pants length and style is being offered. With the continuing popularity of leggings and skinny jeans, the tunic or hip length top is a must have, and Anthropologie has some pretty choices, such as this one in chambray:

Hip or tunic length tops looks great with a skinny bottom, but you will also find trousers perfect for tucking in your shirt, and a whole host of pant lengths and widths, from ankle jeans to cropped/capris, to long, wide bottomed pants, with or without cuffs. Harem style, slouchy, fitted, patterned, dressy, or casual--you name it, and it's yours!  

Anthropologie jeans, fall 2013

I've also been noticing a trend toward pairing a casual tee with dressier pants or skirts, such as these combos on Cara Loren and her friend Amber. (Love Amber's pattern mixing here, too!):
Pieces I don't love continue to leave my wardrobe, and new items work their way in, so that hopefully by the time winter is in full swing, I will have a minimal, essential wardrobe that works with my life and personal style. It is a one-piece-at-a-time venture, and patience is key.